by J. David Forbes, MD
Nashville, TN: Film House, Inc., 2010
CD, 72 minutes
Reviewed by Linda Douty
How often have we heard people say, “Meditation is just not for me; My mind won’t stop; I’m wasting valuable time; I can’t seem to get it right”? This new meditation CD dispels a sense of guilty failure and guides both beginners and seasoned practitioners through a simple step-by-step process.
Witnesses across the centuries have attested to the role of meditation to grow the soul and enhance the natural healing of the body. As the interaction of mind, body, and spirit is increasingly documented, mysticism and modern medicine join to emphasize the importance of meditation—a timeless discipline. However, sometimes we need a tool, a teacher, a method.
David Forbes, an internal medicine physician and current president of the American Holistic Medical Association, has created such a tool. Founder of Nashville Integrated Medicine with specialization in holistic lifestyle care and emotional healing work, Forbes offers specific instructions on proper breathing, posture, and the meditation process itself.
The CD begins with a brief description of what meditation is and is not, telling us what to expect. Forbes challenges the conventional idea that meditation is an easy pathway to bliss. Though it will bring more joy and centeredness to our lives, he also reports that we can expect “a journey through the many aspects of ourselves, the light and the dark.” At its core, he posits that meditation is “being gently with self.”
And what about the infamous monkey-mind that shows up in meditation? Forbes reminds us that it is the nature of the mind to chatter away and urges us to observe this natural brain behavior, accept it, and return to the breath. There are multiple options in the meditation offerings: a complete guided meditation especially suitable for beginners, a looser meditation that leaves more open time, and a five-minute version for when time is short. Some guidance is offered with music, and some without.
The use of this CD with spiritual directees can facilitate the process of spiritual deepening. Most spiritual directors have observed through the years that the journey to the true self and the journey to God are intertwined. For instance, if a spiritual directee is motivated to “know myself better,” he or she tends to encounter the Holy or Sacred on the inward journey. Conversely, those seeking “a deeper relationship with God” meet their true selves along the way. Meditation opens the spiritual practitioner to the inner landscape where the authentic self meets the Sacred. Then the biblical admonition to “love your neighbor as yourself” takes on life-changing meaning. It becomes more of a statement than a condition, for only as we love and accept ourselves do we naturally extend that love to others.
A delightful bonus is the quality of Forbes’ soothing voice. It exudes a deep kindness that leads the listener through the steps of relaxation and openness, especially when he says, “Be gentle with yourself; it’s not easy being a human being.”
Linda Douty is a spiritual director and retreat leader living in Memphis, Tennessee, USA. She is the author of How Can I See the Light When It’s So Dark?, Journey to a Thankful Heart, and How Can I Let Go If I Don’t Know I’m Holding On?